Friday, 10 June 2016

Osinbajo says, 20 million children to benefit from School Feeding programme


Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday said that the Nigeria Home Grown School Feeding programme will change the lives of twenty million children.

The one-meal per day programme, he said, will create multiplier effect on the local economies in communities where the schools are located.

He spoke during the launching of the National Home Grown School Feeding Strategic Plan at the Old Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja

Out of the N6 trillion 2016 budget, he noted that N500 billion is devoted to the social investment programme, which included the school feeding programme.

He said: “The Strategy sets out simply how the federal, state and local governments are to work together to deliver the primary objectives of the programme, namely the feeding of children in primary schools with healthy, nutritious meals prepared from local agricultural produce, cooked and served by food vendors and cooks in the local communities where the schools are located.

“The ultimate objectives are bringing real change to the lives of twenty million children and creating the multiplier effect on the local economies in communities where these schools are located by boosting agriculture, entrepreneurship and employment.”

According to him, the Home Grown School Feeding Programme has four main benefits.

He said: “It will improve school enrollment and completion and curb the current dropout rates from primary school estimated at 30% and thereby also reduce child labour.

“It will improve child nutrition and health. As a result of poverty many children have poor nutrition and worrying health status, which affects learning outcomes. The programme aims to address this.

“It will also increase local agricultural production. This will not only increase production but provides a structural demand for agricultural produce and thus creates local economies that have a ready-made market for their produce and guaranteed profit.

“Finally, it will create jobs that will help lift families below the poverty line over that line and into a brighter future,” he added

He promised that the administration will ensure that the these benefits are not just a good pitch but become real by bringing desirable change in the lives the people and in the communities.

The Acting President, however, noted that the strategic plan will only work when a new level of cooperation between the federal, state and local governments are imbibed.

He said: “It is said that all politics is local. So too development! We therefore recognize the fact that these plans must have specific interpretations in the specific communities. It is called “Home Grown School Feeding” for the reason that it must be owned by the people for whom it has been designed.”

He said that the Federal Government has taken responsibility for the provision of part-funding and also secured sound technical support.

“Yet the Federal Government is just one partner in a value-chain of governance, if you will, that will also include development partners, financial institutions, educational institutions and civil society groups.

He also launched a book entitled ‘Global School Feeding Sourcebook, Lessons from 14 countries’ at the function.

He said: “Indeed the book we are presenting now titled ‘Global school Feeding Sourcebook, Lessons from 14 countries’, underscores the fact that our school feeding programme actually launches us into an international school feeding ecosystem with all the benefits of synergy and collaboration that brings.”

He also disclosed that an inter-ministerial technical team has been constituted, which has the participation of technical partner, the Partnership for Child Development (PCD), led by Bimbo Adesanmi.

“Today we formally lay an important building block in securing our future as we lay out the implementation plan to ensure that even children from the most disadvantaged homes are freed from the destructive effects of malnutrition and distractions as they learn.

“While we attain this objective we incentivise agriculture, food vendor ring and catering. Yes nothing on this scale can be without major implementation difficulties. Smooth flow of funding, sourcing of food, organisation of payment of participants in the value chain are significant challenges.

“There is nothing novel about these challenges, what is important is to ensure that under no circumstances should we be discouraged from surmounting the problems and doing our duty to the millions of Nigerian children especially the large majority from disadvantaged homes.” He added

Speaking on Osun state as a case study for Home grown school feeding programme, the governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aragbesola, who noted that his state was one of the 13 states selected to pilot the programme, said that the programme has had a great social-economic impact on the state.

According to him, there is low incidence of absenteeism in the state among the over 1.5 million children beneficiary, while enrollment in elementary schools increased by 40 percent in the state.

Yearly contribution by the state and local government councils to the feeding programme, he said, is N3.21 billion.

Stressing that there is now better health status of the pupils, he said that the programme has also reduced incidences of child labour in the state.

“Well fed children will most likely be successful,” he said.

The programme, he said, has increased income of smallholder farmers in different commodity sectors.

He however listed the challenges to include funding and political will for sustain ability after the present regime.

On his part, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, who said that his state commenced the programme in January, noted that 1.5 million pupils benefit from the programme daily.

According to him, the state spends N318 million on the programme every week, while 17,000 women are involved and benefiting from the programme.

He said: “The programme touches every household in Kaduna State.”

Stressing that no parent has excuse not to send his or her child to school, he said that the government will arrest any child of school age found loitering the streets from September.

He advised that the success of the programme would depend largely on effective accountability and monitoring system, where there will be clear cut roles for all stakeholders in the programme.

Presenting an overview of the programme at the stakeholders meeting, the Program Coordinator, Bimbo Adesanmi, said that new 1.14 million jobs will be created through the programme.

While the programme will increase food production by 530,000 metric tonnes per annum, she said that it will attract N980 billion investments.

She said that the investments will be in the farm input, equipment and agriculture financing sub sectors and small holder farmer development.

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